ignis, glacies et pertinacia

Posts Tagged ‘The Quickening Maze’

Booker Shortlist

In Book Review, Commentary, Department of Literature, Every Good Boy Deserves Football on September 25, 2009 at 11:30 pm

I haven’t yet updated my post on the Booker list. I haven’t, and won’t manage to read all of the longlist, and there isn’t now much point, and indeed, I doubt I will manage to write more on the shortlist before the results are announced, so here’s a post I have just written on the Newsnight Review website. Maybe it will, and maybe it won’t be approved. Probably I’ll draw fire like I usually do. I found that on the Booker site. Still, it’s something:

It’s a pretty backward-looking list, with only the Coetzee’s offering taking place in anything like the distant past. Fould’s and Mawer’s work I found strangely passionless given the subject. The Quickening Maze didn’t capture anything of the pressured thought and the flighty imagination of mania and a did a poor job of getting into the head of a major poet during a serious mental illness. It moved between its major characters so breezily, and in such a slim volume, that I got nothing of any of them. It lacked focus. Mawer’s Mesto, a fictionalised Brno, relied once again on an evocative setting, and not only on the city itself, but on an architecturally important building in that city, standing to this day and visible to any reader after a cursory internet search. Mawer’s fictional characters are more persuasive for me than Fould’s fictionalised historical figures, but do not come fully alive. It is a very readable work, plot driven and, perhaps, old fashioned. It is a good novel, but perhaps not a great one. Read the rest of this entry »